Link to web catalogue:



1946: Malcolm John Payne born 3rd September in Pretoria, South Africa.

1948: The Nationalist Party gains power heralding the implementation of apartheid.

1953: Attends Pretoria Art Centre where Walter Battiss is the Principal.

1960: Sharpville massacre.

1961: South Africa becomes a republic voted for by a whites only minority.

Payne is active with bicycle gangs in plastering RTR stickers (Reject This Republic) on Stop Signs and traffic light poles.

1957-1964: Attends Pretoria Boys High School. Art teachers are Larry Scully and Walter Battiss.

Battiss remains a close mentor until his death in 1982.

1965: Works at the Permanent Building Society as a teller while awaiting military conscription in September.

1965/66: National Service in the South African Defence Force (non-combatant).

1966: Hendrik Verwoerd Prime Minister from 1958 (also known as the architect of apartheid) is assassinated in the houses of parliament on 6th September.

1967-1970: Enrolls at the Pretoria College for advanced Technical Education (now the Tswane University of Technology) majoring in Painting and Printmaking. Receives National Teachers Diploma in Fine Art after rewriting History of Art and Afrikaans Language papers. He discovers he is deliberately failed by his lecturers on two occasions as his marks exceeded the minimum but were moderated down to failure status by the college.

While at college he develops a multi-disciplinary approach to art making that engages all media. He discovers the importance of Marcel Duchamp. Produces first works in screen-printing that parody the signature style of other artists evident in the post-modern characteristics of the works entitled Portrait of Andy Warhol (1969) and Stella (1974).

Portrait of Andy Warhol. 1969. Screenprint.

In his second year (1968) he paints a portrait of Hendrik Verwoerdt, the Prime Minister with opaque white reading glasses and a South African flag pasted over his mouth. Certain staff members including the Head of the School Justinus van der Merwe instruct Payne to obliterate the work as it is in conflict with the rules of the state that say no one may mock national symbols.

He is elected head of the student representative council by student ballot. The school Head is vehemently opposed to this and declares the vote invalid calling for another ballot. Payne is again voted overwhelmingly for but decides to step down giving the position to his deputy.

In his second year he is awarded joint first prize for Painting at the New Signatures Competition in Pretoria as well as Merit Awards for Printmaking in 1969 and Painting in 1970.

Surfers. !967. Acrylic on Masonite.

In 1970 Jean Tinguely visits the College sculpture studios to make a kinetic sculpture. Payne is experimenting with Standard 8 film. Tinguely grantes permission to film the work in progress. This is unusual as Tinguely normally never allows filmic documentation of his work in progress. In the process Payne forgets to attend his final History of Art exam.

In 2010 he transfers the film to video to make Tinguely in Pretoria, 1970. DVD. Duration: 8:44 mins.


THE NATIONAL SECURITY ACT, of 1970 is passed. It allowed for indefinite detention without trial and established BOSS, the Bureau of State Security, which was responsible for the internal security of South Africa.

In 1970 Payne organizes a protest march from the school to Church Square, the historic centre of Pretoria. The students walk with raised posters that are blank. Marching up Church Street the reach the square, place their posters down and sit on the lawns. A series of police vans arrive at the square. Police emerge. They become confused while examining the posters as nothing is written on them.


The College lecturers give his final year body of work for Painting a punitive mark of 50%. To Payne’s surprise the external examining body intervenes and shifts the mark to 85%. In so doing he receives highest marks in the National exams in South Africa for Painting in his final year (1970).

On returning from his end of year vacation Payne prepares to collect his final year body of work from the College. He is shocked to find none of his work remains. Staff members at the College destroyed all his works.

He finds remnants of Blue Peel (1970) and bits of his aluminum Op-Art paintings stuffed behind a cupboard in Koos den Houting’s (the sculpture lecturer) office. den Houting says he cannot recall how they got there. Payne confronts the head of the college Justinus van der Merwe who says he knows nothing about it, but suggests Payne should not be too aggrieved as the college supplied him with the raw material to construct some of the works.

Blue Peel. 1970.

den Houting in a rage once stormed Payne during a critique session. He had to be restrained by staff from physically assaulting Payne.

No photographic record of his final year works exists but for Blue Peel.

The prejudice against Payne stemmed from his acceptance into major exhibitions like the Transvaal academy in which his lecturer’s artworks were rejected for exhibition.

Payne is told by the Head of the College he would never be employed in the teaching profession.

1971: Works for three months at Kingsway High School, Amanzimtoti, Kwazulu/Natal. He resigns.

Works as scenic designer and set painter for the Performing Arts Council of the Transvaal.

Posing after completion of operatic set in the Performing Arts Council of the Transvaal's paint shop. From left, Payne, David Lister, Richard Cooke, Dawn Smylie and Maurizio Viviani, 1971.

Designs sets for Athol Fugard’s play Boesman and Lena. He continues to make sculpture and prints

Receives first prize in the South African Biennale Art South Africa Today for his sculpture entitled Swing (1971).

Payne’s initial idea for Swing stemmed from a proposed intervention whereby all the playground swings in Pretoria’s public parks were to be made dysfunctional by extending the length of their chains in some cases and welding together the chains in others. 

Swing. 1971.

Awarded the Ernest Oppenheimer Memorial Trust Award for overseas study.

Awarded the Montague White Bursary for overseas study.

Posing with works in the Durban Art Gallery, Art South Africa Today.

1972: Invited to teach painting, sculpture and printmaking at the Johannesburg College of Art.

He is contacted by Claude van Lingen and offered a lectureship at the Johannesburg College of Art. When van Lingen asks for a reference from Justinus van der Merwe (head of Payne’s Alma Mater) he says under no circumstances should Payne be employed. Van Lingen sees this as the finest form of recommendation and immediately employs Payne to teach Painting, Sculpture and Printmaking.

1972-1973: Accepted for postgraduate study at the St.Martins School of Art in London under Sir Anthony Caro, Philip King and William Tucker.

With his 1950s Morgan + 4 soon to be sold to assist in paying for his overseas studies.

While in London he is strongly reminded of South Africa’s status under the Nationalist Party as a pariah state. His peers and lecturers see his presence at St. Martins as almost illegitimate. Under these circumstances he commences his series on identity focusing on his racial classification as white, represented by his South African identity card.

St. Martins at the time taught the doctrine of modernist abstraction. Caro, King and Tucker were powerful exponents of Clement Greenberg's philosophy of art. There was little room for maneuver. However Payne deviated into a form of parody to critique the schools hegemony. Pure Cults, a text work, an anagram of sculpture was later made into a neon sculpture for his first solo exhibition in Johannesburg.

Pure Cults. 1973/74.

On graduation Battiss advised him to return to South Africa and teach.

1974: First Solo exhibition. South African Association of Arts, Southern Transvaal branch, Johannesburg.

Three of his identity card series, including Color Test (1974) are shown for the first time. 

Color Test. 1974.

His first work using television entitled In Geval van nood stamp die ruit uit (1974) is also exhibited. Works in neon are included.

                In geval van nood stamp die ruit uit. 1974.

1974-1975: Teaches painting, sculpture and printmaking at the Johannesburg College of Art.

Keeps a printmaking studio with Robert Westenberg. Westenberg was prolific in printing for Walter Battiss. Prints his ID card series, Rorschach Test and Payne variations.

1976: Travels to New York. Accepted for minimum credit MFA studies at the Pratt Institute. Financial restraints prevent him from entering the course.

While in New York staying at the Chelsea Hotel the Soweto uprising takes place to major international television coverage. Payne records his stay in a series of street photographs.

Payne returns to South Africa to practice full-time.

Allowed studio space at the Johannesburg College of Art, he commences a series of large-scale abstract steel sculptures.

His first of the series is awarded first prize in the open section of the Afrox Metal Art sculpture competition.

Two works are stolen from outside the sculpture studio at the Johannesburg College of Art. They were found in a scrap yard cut up into pieces.


Title forthcoming?

Payne subsequently remakes one of the works. This re-made work, while in storage at the University of the Witwatersrand, in return is recycled/destroyed by art students in 1979, with full knowledge of the head of the art department, Professor Alan Crump.

1977: Marries Merle Pienaar.

Steve Biko, leader of the Black Consciousness Movement is murdered while in detention by the South African Police.

1977-1979: Lectures in sculpture and printmaking at the University of the Witwatersrand.

Completes his cycle of abstract steel sculptures.

These works made between 1976 and 1978, Payne says: “were made to exorcise the ghost of Clement Greenberg and Caro’s modernism” that he endured at St. Martins.

Granted a Human Sciences Research Council Traveling Award to attend the 10th International Sculpture Conference in Toronto, Canada.

1978: Invited as Guest Artist. Johannesburg Art Gallery.

Exhibits (Gold State) abstract steel sculptures. The steel was subjected to an angle grinder. The polished steel was patinated with gold paint.

Designs, paints and dresses set for Athol Fugard’s world premier of A Lesson From Aloes at the Market Theatre, Johannesburg.

Paul Stopforth (b. 1945) takes a series of photographs of a naked Payne lying on his back in Rosebank, Johannesburg. Stopforth uses these for a series of drawings in graphite and wax entitled Detainee. Payne recounts how strange it felt at the time to be posing as a corpse.

Stopforth's works around this time give evidence to a kind of witnessing and testimony in relation to apartheid-era interrogation and torture, and to the deaths in detention to which these practices led. They constitute one of the great works of art produced in protest to the apartheid regime. In relation to the struggle, Stopforth remarked, “I want to bring the facts home to those willing to look. My figures parallel something that we can’t be witness to. We can’t refuse to accept that these things happen.” (http://www.sahistory.org.za/people/paul-stopforth)

Paul Stopforth. Detainee. 1978/9. Graphite and wax.

1979: Payne resigns from the University of the Witwatersrand in July to practice full-time.

At about this time Payne again turns his attention to Duchamp's influence on his thinking. He produces a series of meditations in ink wash on paper and dry point on zinc. These are votive offerings of farewell, Payne says, to remind himself of Duchamp's legacy. He considers art after Duchamp to be in a perpetual state of mourning and he Duchamp's widow.


Farewell Marcel (1979). Indian ink on paper simulating smoke rings.

Preliminary drafts for I am Duchamp's Widow/A View of Mourning. (1978)

Final draft composite for dry point etching for A view of Mourning

Begins a series of drawings (black drawings from 1979 to 1984) in black casein and aquarelle.

Payne discovers by accident how casein receives Caran d’Ache aquarelle crayon with great empathy. He solders a series of wire templates that are layed onto the surface of the substrate. 

He draws around and into these grids to create complex pattern. He mixes Zen hyper action mark making with slow contemplative marking that includes text.

Merlin. 1984

Casein is brushed over the drawn mark where erasure is appropriate and new mark is made in these new black spaces.

    Sonar. 1984.

Exhibits ID Card, Color Test (1974) on Sixth British International Print Biennale. Bradford, England.

1980:  Solo exhibition of black drawings, Market Theatre Art Gallery, Johannesburg, entitled The “Y” in Payne.

With Merle Payne and Nino Zanasi in Nino's restaurant Nino de Genova, a favorite Melville haunt of the 1980s. Nino, a fine bassoon player left the Johannesburg Symphony orchestra to start his restaurant.

1981: Solo exhibition of black drawings entitled OCCULAR SURGERY, Gowlett Gallery, Cape Town.

1983: Awarded the Five Roses Young Artists Award, now the Standard Bank Young Artists Award.

One night Solo exhibition of black drawings destined for the Grahamstown Festival entitled Private View, Rembrandt Art Gallery, University of the Witwatersrand.

Solo exhibition, 1820 Settlers Monument, Grahamstown.

After the exhibition Payne travels to New York in the hope his work will find acceptance at a gallery. He ships a number of works to structural film maker Gerritt Hillhorst’s studio in SOHO, New York. He is met by gallerists, who refuse to see the work as he is South African. He meets Marvin Hefferman, curator of photography for Leo Castelli Gallery who assists him in meeting other dealers. He meets Ivan Karp, OK Harris Gallery who tells him the work is too complex for an American audience. Edit deAk, a writer for Art Forum Magazine concurs. Karp is more interested in artists like Ashley Bickerton and Peter Halley who represent the new trend entitled Neo Geo, a kind of new minimalism.

Payne leaves New York the day before his appointment to meet art dealer Holly Solomon.

On returning to South Africa, Payne makes a work entitled Proto Rhino (1983) (first in the series Stacked Reliefs) for Tributaries, curated by Ricky Burnett.

Proto Rhino. 1983.

Commissioned by the Sand du Plessis Theatre, Bloemfontein, to execute a design for the fire curtain for the new theatre. The contract was signed, however a few weeks later he was recalled to Bloemfontein to discuss changing his design. Payne said he could not do that and the theatre cancelled the contract. Payne took legal advice but felt he could not take on the might of the Free Stare Provincial Government.

Shortly thereafter he received a number of inquisitive phone calls from Kevin Atkinson. Atkinson cagily enquired as to the quote Payne had supplied the theatre. At no time did Atkinson suggest he had been engaged with the Theatre with respect to the fire curtain or that he knew Payne’s contract was cancelled. However Payne’s suspicions were raised. A few months late Payne learnt that Atkinson had acquired the commission.

1984: Purchases 54-hectare farm in the Magaliesburg nature reserve near Hekpoort, North West Province. Builds house and studio in six months.

Studio, Hekpoort in the Magaliesberg nature reserve, 1985.

Unfinished studio kitchen with Quinton Sharpe and Millar lamps for lighting.

Completes Stacked Reliefs series, assisted by Maurice la Mantia (La Mantia's grandfather was Haile Selassie's personal palace film projectionist)

Tuesday 1st May 1985.

These works were influenced by the rise in political power of Trades Union movements (and iconography) that Payne saw becoming a powerful force that would assist in pressurizing the government to advance democracy. This period in South African history was particularly brutal as the state cracked down on legitimate protest.

Commences black spray drawings series entitled Malchemy.

After the complex and colour saturated Stacked Relief works Payne felt he needed to return to poor materials. He cut a series of small stencils derived from motifs from Stacked Reliefs. Black nitrocellulose lacquer was sprayed around and in the positive and negative elements of the stencils.

These works evoke the spirit of the time characterized by political violence perpetrated by an insane state.

Completes commission for University of Cape Town’s new Biological Sciences building.

1985: Solo exhibition of Stacked Reliefs at Karen McKerron Gallery, Johannesburg.

1985-86: Solo exhibition of the Malchemy series, Market Theatre Experimental Wall.

1986: Sells farm and moves back to Brixton, Johannesburg.

Solo exhibition, South African Association of Arts, Pretoria, that includes the Malchemy series. Prior to the opening the exhibition is visited by the police. He receives anonymous mail that contains fundamentalist Christian material. The sender accuses Payne of being a Satanist.

1987-1988: Appointed contract lecturer in sculpture and History of Art at the University of Bophuthatswana.

The university was created in the independent homeland of Bophuthatswana, a separate state created in terms of the government’s policy of separate development.  Payne’s decision to work in Bophuthatswana was deliberate.

While in Mafikeng (the capital of Bophuthatswana, now Northwest Province) he commences series of terra cotta sculptures entitled The Mafikeng Heads. These works pay tribute to early stone-age ceramicists works in particular the art primes The Lydenburg Heads, unearthed in Lydenburg, Mpumalanga dating from ± 1000 BC.   Link: Preliminary drawings for Mafikeng Heads

Mafikeng Heads. 1988.

Visits Taung, site of the discovery of the Taung Skull, the first hominid found in Africa. This species is named Australopithecus africanus. 

Appointed external examiner for the Michaelis School of Fine Art BAFA degree.

1988: Exhibites Mafikeng Heads on the Cape Town Triennial and at Cassirer Fine Art, Johannesburg.

1989: Appointed lecturer in painting, Michaelis School of Fine Art, University of Cape Town. Payne retires from the University in 2009.

Payne and his wife agree to divorce.

Begins new series of paintings, prints and watercolours entitled Market Forces. These works examine the “mineral revolution” and its affect on the geography both spatial and political.

Forms Axeage Private Press with Pippa Skotnes in Long Street Cape Town.

In October 1989, co-founded the Axeage Private Press with Pippa Skotnes. The press is responsible for publishing fine original hand made books and prints. The books embody a union of the artistic, the scientific and the literary.  

Produces a series of etchings at the press.

Pippa Skotnes publishes the first limited edition artists book at the Axeage Press.

The South African Library (one of the States Legal Deposit Libraries) sues Pippa Skotnes for a copy of her Axeage Private Press artist’s book entitled Sounds from the thinking strings. Piet Westra, the erstwhile head of the library does so as Pippa refuses to give the library a copy of her book as she asserts it is not a book but an artwork. She offers the library a book at cost, which is rejected.

She wins the first round……. to be concluded ...

Publishes limited edition artists book entitled:  Face Value: old heads in modern masks.

1992: Awarded Master of Fine Arts (UCT) with distinction.

Solo exhibition of the series Market Forces, at the Breakwater Campus, Cape Town.

Tunnel vision. 1992

1993: Exhibits on Incroci del Sud — Affinities. 45th Venice Biennale. Venice, Italy, 9 June to 10 October 1993 and Sala Uno, Rome, Italy. 15 October to December.

This exhibition sees South Africa returning to the Venice Biennale after being barred from the Biennale in 1966.

Exhibits on Zuiderkruis. Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, The Netherlands. (re-hung and recontextualised version of Incroci del Sud — Affinities).

Exhibits Face Value: old heads in modern masks, a visual, archaeological and historical interpretation of the Lydenburg heads. South African National Gallery, Cape Town, 17 November 1993 to 31 January 1994.

The exhibition included the Lydenburg Heads that are normally exhibited as archaeological specimens in the South African Museum and not as artworks. Part of Payne’s project was to introduce these iron-age terra cotta sculptures to the public as works of art.

An artist’s book of the same title is also exhibited. All the etchings from the book are hung.

1994: Commissioned by Paul Eubel to design a Tosa-kite for the Goethe Institute (Osaka, Japan) Art Kites project. Kite maker K. Nagasaki completed the kite (entitled Eclipse) that was subsequently exhibited under the curatorship of Ikuko Matsumoto, Sydney, Australia, December 1994.

One hundred artists from around the world were invited to paint on traditional hand made Washi paper, used for kite making in Japan prior to their works being transformed into kites by Japanese master kite makers, a tradition that has its origins in the 2nd century, BC. Artists included are Frank Stella (USA), Sam Francis (USA), Mimmo Paladino (Italy) and Jean Tinguely (Switzerland) among others.

Trackings. Curated by Ricky Burnett,Art First Gallery, London, England.

XIT. South African Association of Arts. Cape Town. Curated by the artist.

The exhibition coincided with the first democratic elections in South Africa. Twenty artists were chosen by Payne to reflect the momentous historical moment in South Africa’s transition to democracy.

1994:  Exhibits Mistaken Identity -1994,  The Lager, Curated by W Barker. Newtown Cultural Precinct, Johannesburg.

Exhibits on Images of Metal. Curated by Liz Rankin, University of Witwatersrand Galleries, Johannesburg.

Exhibits on Displacements: South African Works on Paper 1984 — 1994. Block Gallery, Northwestern University, Chicago, USA.

Exhibits on States of Contrast — Contemporary Printmaking from South Africa. Florida State University Museum, USA. Chicago.

Exhibits on Trackings. Curated by Ricky Burnett, Art First Gallery, London, England.

1995: Exhibits on Panoramas of Passage: Changing Landscapes of South Africa. Albany Museum Grahamstown. Meridian Cafritz Galleries, Washington DC, USA. African American Museum: Fernbank Museum of Natural History, Atlanta, Georgia: Museum of African American History, Detroit, Michigan: National Museum of Afro-American Culture.

Exhibits on We the People — United for the Global Environment. The United Nations in collaboration with the Department of Environmental Affairs, Pretoria Art Museum, May 15 to 25 June 1995.

Solo exhibition entitled Untitled (USA), Untitled (Holland), Untitled (UK) at the 46th Venice Biennale, Venice, Italy.

A national competition (under the auspices of the South African Department of Arts Culture Science and Technology) was instituted calling for proposals from artists to present South Africa at the 46th Venice Biennale, Venice, Italy. Payne’s proposed installation was selected for exhibition.

Payne proposed to build three walls, one each in front of the British, American and Netherlands pavilions

Initial discussion with the Biennale officials was cordial. He was requested to acquire consent from the countries concerned. He wrote to them. The American curator said any structure in front of their pavilion would interfere with their press conference arrangements to be held for their artist Bill Viola.  The British curator said, as they had recently restored their building they were afraid the building foundations would be undermined if Payne erected a structure in front of it. The Netherlands curator said as they were hosting Luxembourg any such remaining space in front of their pavilion would be compromised.

Nevertheless the Biennale office said they would make a plan in true Biennale fashion. On arrival in Venice Payne met with the Biennale architect and members of the cities department of archaeology who insisted as in Italian law, that no excavation of foundations were permissible without an appointed team of archaeologist to oversee the site. However a concrete platform or floating slab was agreed to.

The next step was to identify a venue. Payne felt, as the countries concerned could not accommodate his transient South African trio of pavilions (although the Biennale had no problem with the idea) to construct the walls just outside the Giardini entrance — beyond the gates, as it were.

The organizers of the Italian pavilion assist Payne with storage of the components and foreign labour was found to build the walls.

Behind these events there was a political drama being played out.  The South African commissioner was the South African ambassador to Italy, Glenn Babb. He had laid the groundwork and acquired venues for the South African exhibition as he did in 1993. Due to the drawn out process of appointing a South African artist the building designated to house aspects of the installation was forfeited.

The slowness stemmed from a discovery by Louis Jansen van Vuuren, Chairperson of the South African Association of Arts of a covert attempt by Linda Givon (Goodman Gallery) to promote her stable of artists to Venice. Givon was close to members in the newly elected ANC government particularly those in the arts cluster. van Vuuren demanded transparency.  Her attempt at surreptitiously presenting the event was stalled.

The nation wide competition was called thereafter to be adjudicated by a panel with no vested interests.

Meanwhile Ambassador Babb was recalled to South Africa. Brigitte Mbandla, a member of the newly elected ruling party, the African National Congress, replaced him. Babb withdrew his assistance in the matter and returned to South Africa.

Payne received no assistance from the Milan Embassy. At the opening of the Biennale, a staff member from the Embassy proudly presents Nelson Mandella’s book to Biennale officials.

   Untitled (USA), Untitled (Holland), Untitled (UK) 1995.

Purchases video editing software.

Although Payne experimented with early black and white video in London during 1972/3 and installed closed circuit television components in works of 1973 and 1974 he found no use for the medium until affordable desktop editing software was available.

He works almost exclusively in video from 1995 to 2003.

1996: Exhibits on Artists’ Books in the Ginsberg Collection. Johannesburg Art Gallery, Johannesburg.

Exhibits Title in Progress on the exhibition Fault Lines: enquiries into truth and reconciliation, curated by Jane Taylor, The Castle, Cape Town, June 16 1996 to July 31 1996. Funded by the Royal Netherlands Embassy.

Artists and writers were invited by Jane Taylor to make works that engage with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission evoked to redress the wrong doings of the past under apartheid rule.

Payne chose to represent Torture and the shredding of evidence in a multi-media installation that include commissioned sound track by Warrick Soney, television monitors, motorized puppet and vacuum-formed book forms.

Exhibits on Unplugged. Curated by Kendell geers, Rembrandt Art Gallery, Market Theatre, Johannesburg.

1997. XANADU "No memory" space exhibit. Web art exhibition, curated by Valery Grancher.

Exhibits Ace. Video Installation on Arborescence sud-Afracaine. Des artistes en fin de sieclè. Curated by Patricia Solini, Nantes, France, October 1997.

Exhibits Abandon your Culture. Video Installation on the exhibition Alternating Currents. Curated by Okwui Enwezor and Octavio Zaya. The 2nd Johannesburg Biennale, Johannesburg, October 1997.

See section on Video for clip.

Exhibits on Image and Form: prints drawing and sculpture from Southern Africa and Nigeria. Brunei Gallery, School of Oriental and African Studies, London.

Exhibits on 30 Minutes. Video installation. Curated by Sue Williamson, Robben Island Museum, Interview Block, Robben Island, Cape Town.

Robben Island renowned for the imprisonment of political prisoners (most famously Nelson Mandela) possess a building at the entrance of the island that was used for prisoners to receive their annual thirty minute minute visits from friends or family. Payne installed a television monitor within one of the prisoners glass window viewing frames. The image is black and a scratching noise is heard. Thembinkosi Goniwe assisted Payne. 

Artists catalogue statement: Kwere Kwere.

Abandon Your Identity – Ukutyeshela Ubuni Bakho (1997) was originally displayed in the Interview Block on Robben Island, as part of the ‘Thirty Minutes’ exhibition. During the time of its use as a prison, the Interview Block was the space of communication where the prisoners, isolated on an island, came face-to-face with the ‘normal’ world. It was a space and time in which reconstructed and abandoned identities collided. In meeting friends and family, the prisoner’s ‘outside’ identity was recalled and triggered by the presence of the visitor. The visitor, on the other hand, had to face the prisoner whose identity had been reconstructed by the environment of the prison. The video shows a blackened glass through which a performer attempts to scratch or draw a picture of himself. As the portrait develops, a point is reached where the image becomes less and disappears as more is drawn. The prisoner, searching for an image of himself, is doomed to see his identity disappear. This defacement is a visual equivalent of the tensions present in the prisoner’s sense of himself. The performer eventually realizes that he is able to glimpse something beyond the glass. He loses sight of himself and eventually continues to clean away the remnants of the scratched face. He reveals his face to us, but doesn’t notice that we are looking at him.

Exhibits on Printmaking in a transforming South Africa. Grahamstown Festival, Grahamstown. June 1997.

Exhibits on Trans Figurative. Curated by Jill Trappler, AVA Gallery, Cape Town, July 1997.

Exhibits on Unplugged II. Curated by Kendell Geers with start-up by myself, Rembrandt Art Gallery, Market Theatre, Johannesburg.

Exhibits on Contemporary South African Art 1985 to 1995: from the SANG Permanent Collection. Curated by Emma Bedford. December 1996 to March 1997.

1998. Exhibits on Panoramas of passage, University of Witwatersrand Galleries, 9 June to 10 July 1998.

Exhibits Abandon your Culture. Video Installation. 16 World Wide Video Festival, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Exhibits on Bilder für den himmel. Luxemburg.

Exhibits on Whats Bread in the Stone. Curated by Steven Inggs, AVA, November 1998.

Featured on Artthrob Projects Page. September 1998, curated by Sue Williamson at http://www.artthrob.co.za

Exhibits on VIRTUAL AFRICA - AFRIQUE VIRTUELLE. Curated by Jocelyne Rotily, at http://www.cyberworkers.com/Leonardo (web exhibition)

1999: Channel.  AVA. Curated by R Weinek. Cape Town, 23 Marchto10 April. (First exhibition devoted to Video Art in South Africa)

1999: Exhibits on Global Conceptualism: Points Of Origin 1950s-1980s. Queens Museum, New York, USA, Walker Art Center, USA. African component curated by Okwui Enwezor.

Queens museum commissions Payne to reproduce conceptual art works from the early 1970s that had been destroyed. They in include Rorschach Test (1974). Queens Museum manage to damage beyond repair one of the re-editioned (one of five) examples of Rorschach Test. Enwezor_catalogue_entry.pdf

Exhibits on Video Views. Curated by E. Bedford, South African National Gallery, Cape Town, 2 March to 22 June. (Contemporary South African work in video)

Exhibits on Emergence. Curated by J. Charlton & F. Rankin-Smith, Grahamstown, July.

2000: Appointed Professor in Fine Art, University of Cape Town.

Exhibits on Channeltoo. AVA. Curated by R Weinek, Cape Town, July 2000. Video art and live streaming video.

Exhibits on Kwere Kwere. Curated by R Bester, Gertrude Posel Gallery, University of the Witwatersrand, June 2000.

Exhibits video entitled 10 Canons of Stupidity on 18th World Wide Video Festival. Arti et Amicitiae, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

2001: Exhibits 10 Canons of Stupidity on the exhibition New ideas — old tricks. hARTware projekte Dortmund, Germany, 11 May – I June.

Exhibits 15 March 2001. 13 Videobrasil. Festival Internacional de Arte Electronica, Sao Paolo, Brazil, 19–23 September 2001.


Video still.

Exhibits on Head North. Views from the SANG permanent collection. Bild Museet, Umeå, Sweden.

Exhibits Gemorse on the exhibition Homeport. Video installationSouth African Maritime Museum, The Waterfront, Cape Town. 8 December 2001– 15 January 2002.

2002: Exhibits Anthem. Twin screen synchronised looped DVD, 11 minutes, 2002. Video, Michaelis Galleries in association with World Wide Video Festival, Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Curated by Tom van  Vliet, 18 February to 9 March, 2002.

Anthem. 2002. Screen shot.

Exhibits on Beyond the Material: Conceptual Art from the Permanent Collection. South African National Gallery, Cape Town. Curated by Emma Bedford, April to August 2002.

Exhibits on Variable Contrast. Curated by Steven Inggs for the Month of Photography, Michaelis Galleries, April 2002.

Exhibits on States of Emergence.  Curated by Warren Siebrits at Warren Siebrits Modern and Contemporary Art, Johannesburg, September/October 2002.

2003: Exhibits Human Behaviour on Lexicons and Labyrinths. South African Museum, curated by Fritha Langerman, 22 March to 31 May. For this project (that asks artists to engage with aspect of the human genome project) Payne has his genome analyzed by Dr. Himla Soodyall, of the Wits Human Genomic Diversity and Disease Research Unit. see:  mtDNA_and_Y_chromosome_analysis_of_DNA.pdf

The work comprises two miniature video monitors, a ceramic pig and chimpanzee. The pig is staring at a pair of hands making the head of a pig from a ball of clay. The chimpanzee stares at a drawn portrait of itself taking place. The monitors are magnified in front of the animals by magnifying glasses. The work shown above is an adaption for incubator realized for Curiosity (2004-2005) curated by Pippa Skotnes, Gwen van Embden and Fritha Langerman, Hiddingh Hall, University of Cape Town. http://www.cca.uct.ac.za/curations/?lid=131

Exhibits on Kwere Kwere: Journies into Strangeness. Arti et Amicitiae, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Solo exhibition Illuminated Manuscripts—First Selection. 3rd International Impact Print Conference, Michaelis

2004: Exhibits on Decade of Democracy. SANG

Exhibits on Working Proof. Art on Paper, Melville, Johannesburg, January, 2004.

Exhibits on New Prints/Fall. International Print Center New York, New York.

Solo exhibition Illuminated Manuscripts – Second Selection. Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg. July/August 2004.

2004-2005: Exhibits on Making Waves. SABC Collection. Johannesburg Art Gallery, November 2004 to March 2005.

2005: Solo exhibition Illuminated Manuscripts – Final selection. UCT Irma Stern Museum, Cape Town. February/March 2005.

Exhibits Democracy. Michaelis Gallery, Michaelis School of Fine Art, UCT, 15 September 2005.

Exhibits on Snap to Grid. Los Angeles Center for Digital Print. Los Angeles, USA, 8 September – 1 October 2005.

2007: Exhibits on Intermodem. International Virtual Workroom, MODEM, Centre for Modern and Contemporary Arts, Debrecen, Hungary, 24 September – 29 September 2007. Curated by Àbel Kónya.

2008: Appointed Michaelis Chair of Fine Art. University of Cape Town.

2009: Braam Kruger dies.

Braam Kruger in Paynes studio 1991.

2009-10: Exhibits Tinguely in Pretoria 1970 (DVD. Duration: 8:44 minutes) on Dada South? Exploring Dada legacies in South African Art 1960 – the present. Curated by Roger van Wyk and Kathryn Smith, South African National Gallery, 12 December 2009 -- 28 February 2010.

Retires from the University of Cape Town and is made an Emeritus Professor.

2010: Exhibits on Fake. 2nd Intermodem. International Virtual Workroom, MODEM, Centre for Modern and Contemporary Arts, Debrecen, Hungary. Curated by Àbel Kónya, 6 May – 30 May 2010.

In September 2009 Payne is held up in his home. After a brutal altercation in his kitchen he is forced into his garage where the armed robber attempts to force him into the boot of his car. Payne grabs the gun. It breaks in his hand. It is a plastic replica. Thereafter the robber attempts to slash Payne’s throat. The robber eventually runs off. 

Payne uses the incident to produce a 3 x 6 metre print for the exhibition Fake. 

He incorporates a narrative of the incident that includes statistical information about South Africa's global ranking in violent crime



September 12th 2009. Digital print. 6000 mm x 3000 mm.

Exhibits on People, Prints and Process – 25 Years at Caversham. Standard Bank Gallery, Johannesburg, 14 October – 4 December 2010.

Exhibits on 1910-2010: From Pierneef to Gugulective.  Curated by Riason Naidoo, Iziko South African National Gallery 15 April – 3 October 2010.

Exhibits on Artworks in Progress. Michaelis Galleries, 16 September – 6 October 2010.

2011: Solo exhibition entitled Pogonology, Blank Projects. February, 1011. blank_exhibition_catalogue.pdf  

Solo exhibition. Aphroisms. Youngblackman, Cape Town, March 2011.

Exhibits Aphrosims at Joburg Fringe









Malcolm Payne Archive.
Permanently under revision and construction.

  Site Map